The mercurial nature of human understanding makes history both a compelling and horrifying subject. When human ignorance is benign, it usually manifests in the form of silly beliefs, like flat Earth. Once an intellectual blindspot mutates into an unwavering and unassailable belief, ignorance can quickly become malevolent. That's when regimes and the mobs that follow them start punishing people, often violently, for stepping outside the societal convention and group think.
Few periods of history exemplify this phenomenon as potently as the Salem witch trials. Due to a gross misapprehension of science combined with inherent misogyny, several innocent women- and a few men- were wrongfully convicted and brutally murdered by unruly mobs of colonists.
Although most of the convictions associated with the Salem witch trial have been overturned, one woman, Elizabeth Johnson Jr, was never publically cleared. However, thanks to an eighth-grade civics class, Johnson's wrongful conviction of witchcraft was overturned last week. Those murderous colonists would've gotten away with destroying Johnson's legacy, too, if it weren't for those meddling kids.
But through it all, one woman remained unacknowledged, her legacy still tarnished by false allegations: Elizabeth Johnson Jr. Now, Johnson's name has been cleared, finally bringing justice to the last conviction of the Salem witch trials, reports the New York Times' Vimal Patel.
The exoneration was inside a state budget signed by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker last week—329 years after Johnson was found guilty of witchcraft. This official pardon marks the successful conclusion of a lobbying campaign by an unexpected group of advocates: Carrie LaPierre, a Massachusetts teacher, and her eighth-grade civics class.